book review: desolation road

Ian McDonald’s Desolation Road is so goddamned good. It’s the story of a town on Mars (though it’s not called Mars but Ares) out in the middle of the desert. We read about the town being formed by one person stumbling upon an oasis and then welcoming the stragglers who show up on the train. It’s sort of like a western, with that whole trains to the frontier aspect.

The thing about the book that makes it so great is how it feels more like a Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Salman Rushdie book than Kim Stanley Robinson. The characters have that kind of magicalness to them, that storybooklandish kind of feel. One of the town’s early residents is Persis Tatterdemalion who crashes her plane there and won’t leave unless she can fly out. There are angels and intelligent trains and a ghost that unravels a murder and identical triplets who love the same woman and war and saints and robots and strikes and the Greatest Snooker Player the Universe has Ever Known and a man who makes people bleed with his sarcasm.

Probably my favourite book I’ve read so far this year.

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